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The Student News Site of Cape Coral High School

The Seahawk's Eye

The Student News Site of Cape Coral High School

The Seahawk's Eye

Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department is nothing short an instant classic

Taylor+Swift%E2%80%99s+The+Tortured+Poets+Department+is+nothing+short+an+instant+classic

From smashing her own records to her fans’ hearts yet again, Taylor Swift has done something unlike any other with her 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department (TTPD). Two years in the making, TTPD is Swift’s most heartbreaking, raw, and intricate album to date. 

Released on April 19th, Swift shocked fans with a double album release of TTPD, including the original album, The Tortured Poets Department, and a second album rendition at 2 AM, titled, The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology (The Anthology). 

The album documents Swift’s raw and emotional last two years, with songs about her breakup with boyfriend of six years, Joe Alwyn, her turbulent relationship with The 1975 star Matty Healy, and her current relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. With this, Swift used songs about her experiences in the music industry and feelings of replaceability to craft an album unlike anything else in her discography. 

Dropping Easter eggs for this double album release since her announcement at the 2024 Grammy’s in February, Swift not only managed to add something new to her discography, but also paid respects to her past albums. 

Lyrics choices in this album pay obvious homage to each of her past 10 albums, drawing parallels between songs. “Down Bad” pays alludes to the song “New Romantics (Taylor’s Version)” off of 1989 Taylor’s Version in the lyric “How dare you think it’s romantic Leaving me safe and stranded,” calling out the line “Please leave me stranded It’s so romantic” from the latter song. This is only one of some of the allusions Swift draws between her albums, creating an aura that feels as though this album is  both something new and yet a reminisce on her past lives. 

Those two lines specifically, show how Swift and her lyricism has changed in the 18 years she has been in the music industry. The common theme of being stranded emphasized how Swift once valued a rush of thrill in her life, and now seeks to be concrete and “safe.”

It’s very clear that Swift wanted her fans to see this album release as two separate albums, baring the question, then, are there two track fives to analyze? Typically, Swift’s track fives are her most raw songs on the album, with her arguably most famous song off that list being “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version). If that’s the case, her track fives from TTPD and The Anthology would be “So Long, London” and “How Did It End?” respectively. 

“So Long, London” is Swift’s farewell to her relationship with former boyfriend Alwyn, and emphasizes her desire to marry him throughout the entire song. The introduction of the song is nearly 30 seconds long, and in that 30 seconds it creates a melody similar to wedding bells that transitions into a call back to her song on Reputation “Call It What You Want,” whose introduction is nearly identical to the remainder of “So Long, London.” 

Also about Swift’s relationship with Alwyn, “Call It What You Want” is one of the first love songs Swift wrote about their relationship, creating an especially bittersweet feeling with its reference in “So Long, London.” This allusion back to her previous works is such a common trend throughout the entire album that Swift intentionally uses her lyrics and instrumentals to create a cohesive feeling. 

Even without this connection, Swift’s lyrical genius is only emphasized throughout TTPD and The Anthology. Songs like “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived” and “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?” are some of Swift’s greatest songs to date, pulling on every heart string within a ten mile radius of her songwriting. 

The bridge of “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived” is comparable to the intensity of “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)(Taylor’s Version)(From the Vault),” “Dear John (Taylor’s Version),” and “tolerate it.” For over a minute, Swift’s tension and anger builds up to a final release that is one of the most emotional of the entire album. 

Lyrics like “Were you sent by someone who wanted me dead? Did you sleep with a gun underneath our bed?” and “You kicked out the stage lights But you’re still performing And in plain sight you hid But you are what you did” emphasize the rage and feeling of helplessness that Swift went through, crafting a picture that is unlike anything else she has released thus far. 

“Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?” is reminiscent of Swift’s folklore and evermore eras. The lyrical choices scream “little cabin in the woods” feel, and bring listeners back to one of Swift’s most iconic eras. Specifically, a part of the chorus is similar to Swift’s song “mad woman” from folklore. “I was tame, I was gentle ‘til the circus life made me mean Don’t you worry folks, we took out all her teeth Who’s afraid of little old me? …Well, you should be.”

“mad woman” is about the disparities in life between men and women, and how women’s emotions are often used to diminish their value and worth. This line in “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?” screams female rage, and is concurrent with the themes of “mad woman.”

Swift describes how her life experiences resulted in her feeling like she was taken advantage of and tried to be silenced by those around her. That excerpt from the chorus is perfect, since it characterizes her emotions but shows how even after all this time (folklore was released in 2020), Swift still deals with similar issues. 

Collectively, The Tortured Poets Department  and The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology are Swift’s best works to date. The lyrical masterpieces she has created like “How Did It End?” and “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived” are unlike anything she has written before. 

Swift’s latest addition to her discography is messy, beautiful, and heartbreaking, just how life is. TTPD and The Anthology have changed the future of Swift’s career, opening new doors and taking her fans to a whole new level of excellence. Her best album yet, The Tortured Poets Department is an album that will change lives forever. 

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AJ Cudnik
AJ Cudnik, Editor-in-Chief

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